- Because at 23 directors, our board is too big to be nimble. (For instance, ONA has 13 directors.)
- Because we have trouble finding candidates for regional director.
- Because competitive races would boost voter turnout.
- Because the rest of the directors could use the money we’d save. (See below.)
Q. Why propose this today?
Because it turns out the regions most easily merged are also the ones with no candidates so far this year, according to Dana Neuts, chair of the nominations committee.
Q. How did you decide the new map?
Every region picks up at least one state, except for Region 1, which gets all of Pennsylvania (because it’s silly to split a state).
Q. Won’t our regions be too big to represent all our members?
These regions were created before email, video conferencing, and free long distance. I’ve never traveled to Atlanta to aid SPJ Georgia. However, I talk with them frequently via phone, email, and Google Hangout. So adding another state to Region 3 changes nothing for me.
Q. Won’t our regional conferences get unwieldy?
Just the opposite. This year, Region 4 and 5 hosted a joint spring conference, and from all reports, it was better merged than not. Fewer conferences might improve them.
Q. But doesn’t this leave the board with 20 members, an even number?
Yes, but I propose the board request a bylaws change this fall: Eliminate one campus chapter adviser.
SPJ is already over-represented with professors, with a second campus chapter adviser and a VP for campus chapter affairs. Plus, some RDs are usually professors. (Currently, three are.)
Times have changed from the days when most RDs were newspaper reporters and most open seats were contested. Our board should change with those times.
But even if we had only 20 members, big deal. I’ve asked SPJ old-timers if they can recall any motion that came down to a single vote, and not one could.
Each RD receives a $1,500 annual travel stipend. Let’s set aside $3,000 of the $4,500 we save from this move and create a “regional directors’ fund.”
I’ve long advocated that RDs have their own budget to fulfill their mission, as stated in Article 7, Section 10 of SPJ bylaws…
The regional directors (members of the board) shall be responsible for organizing, guiding and supervising, and stimulating the activity of each chapter in their regions.
SDX stopped awarding chapter grants three years ago. Now our struggling chapters get no financial assistance from SPJ National.
The RD Caucus is the perfect vehicle to allocate $3,000 where it’s needed most. RDs can meet virtually and vote quickly on defraying chapters’ programming costs.
Also: Most RDs have no budget at all, while some are flush. (Region 3 and 12 split proceeds from the Green Eyeshades Awards, for example.) This fund reduces the wealth gap.
What about the rest of the money? Travel stipends saved from the third RD and the campus chapter adviser ($3,000) will be used to raise the current stipends for remaining board members.
Why? Because those stipends don’t cover the cost of two board meetings, and if we want the best candidates, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to only those who can afford it.
Article 7, Section 1 of SPJ bylaws states:
The board of directors shall be composed of the national officers, the immediate past president, one regional director for each region established by the board, and six directors to be elected at large: two campus chapter advisers, two student members, and two professional members.
Article 7, Section 2 states…
The board of directors shall determine the boundaries for regions.
So we can do this tomorrow if we want.
I propose we discuss this via email for a week, call an online meeting next month, and make this change ahead of our big 2016 elections push.
As for the campus director at large, Mike Reilley isn’t seeking reelection and no candidate has yet declared. If we act quickly, we can announce our intention to eliminate this position without any hassle.
What say you? Feel free to comment below or continue the discussion via email.